On Monday, I returned from Kathmandu after a very fulfilling and engaging trip. You will be surprised to know that I was there for 11 days and nights and yet, on the last day, I had to make a list of things to keep for next time. Literally, Nepal has so much to offer that it is not possible to cover everything. Mind it, this was my second trip. Having attended the first Himalayan Travel Mart and International travel bloggers and media conference in the year 2017, I was happy to be back for HTM 2019. It gave me a chance to meet new people, make the best of the culture itinerary, do things as I wanted and explore new stories.
11 days, really?
What will you do for 11 days? You will get bored. Does Nepal really have so much to offer? I mean, it is just so small. These were some of the questions and statements that came from my friends and family when they learned that I was going for more than a week. Its actually surprising because I am not even a trekker and yet I was going there. No doubt, the country is small, it is the gateway to the Himalayas and most of the people go there only for adventure activities, it is high time to tell the world that Nepal has lots of culture and heritage too. Pristine, colorful and just so charming it is! What you need is a traveler’s eye and good intention to see it all. I knew it because I had attended the first HTM in 2017.
Why again to Nepal?
I love revisiting places. First time is merely an introduction to any place. It is the successive trips which help you gauge better and indulge deeply. You are more prepared and you actually know what to expect from the place. Like this time, I was mentally and physically prepared. I knew what I wanted. I chose to go back again to enjoy the Nepali hospitality, to slow down and to look for more meaningful stories. I was prepared to take those bumpy road trips because I knew what was lying ahead. I wanted to visit Chitwan not just for the wildlife safari but for its old Tharu community. I was looking forward to Pokhara because I wanted to see the sunrise at Sarankot. Last time, I had taken a taxi but this time I wanted to hike to the World Peace Pagoda. I had thoroughly enjoyed my home-stay experience of Panauti village, hence this time I was looking forward to visiting Tansen village in Palpa. So even though I was covering the same places, I had new things to do. For instance the aarti ceremony at the Phewa lake was absolutely new for me.
The Pre-Fam Itinerary before the HTM!
1st Night in Kathmandu – More like a settling in thing! Well the flight from Delhi to Kathmandu is just about 1 hour 20 minutes, so its really fun to be in another country in less than two hours.
2 Nights in Chitwan – The first day was spent in evening walk, exploring the Tharu village, enjoying the sunset over Rapti river and the second day was utilized for canoeing, jungle safari and nature walk. I would have loved an extra day here.
1 Night in Lumbini – I always feel this place needs more time. There is more to this place than Maya Devi Temple (Buddha’s birth place). There are lovely praying center here and one must take some meditation classes here.
2 Nights in Pokhara – It feels enough but its never enough. Pokhara has so many beautiful lakes but we always end up being around Phewa. Though, its my favorite, I would have loved to see the other water bodies and more of the neighboring countryside of Pokhara.
5 Nights in Kathmandu – Well two and a half days were strictly dedicated to the Himalayan Travel Mart opening ceremony and various sessions. The rest of the time was utilized for exploring the attractions of Kathmandu.
Last time, I couldn’t explore the capital city properly. This time, Pashupati Nath temple and Buddha stupa were high on my list and I made it too.
Himalayan Travel Mart (HTM) and International Travel Bloggers and Media Conference (ITBMC).
So what is HTM and ITBMC? Well the Himalayan Travel Mart is a great platform where sellers from Nepal and buyers from around the world meet each other, talk about prospective clienteles and discuss opportunities of business. This is the time where Nepali tours and travel companies can really pitch their work to international agents. Isn’t it a great international exposure?I met some of these creative people and was impressed with their work. Travel industry is at its best. Travel is no more boring, because there are some amazing travel designers who are there to make your experience worth every penny you spend. Well, my purpose of visit was not this but the International Travel Bloggers and Media Conference. That’s where I fit in.
PATA Nepal Chapter and Nepal Tourism Board must be applauded for managing a great line up of speakers. I loved the sessions in the year 2017 too and even now. The events, panel discussions and conversations that take place at this conference are really very inspiring and enlightening. Its great to meet people who have conquered Everest, its amazing to see what lies for content creators and its absolutely enriching to hear from great spiritual leaders, editors, consultants, change makers in the field of travel and tourism. I like it for it generates a lot of positivism around travel, sustainability, ecosystem, environment and more. Its always heartening to see the efforts made to shift the focus from Mount Everest to other things like culture, food, history, heritage and people of Nepal. There is so much to discover and this is what a new-age traveler is looking for.
Takeaways from Nepal and HTM 2019
First and foremost, I feel Nepal understands the power of social media, bloggers, writers. They know how to engage their young generation, hospitality, airline and other sponsoring brands for promoting their country. I wouldn’t say everything was flawless but the logistic and other interactions were very well managed by the young students of tourism and hospitality college. As volunteers, they managed everything from transportation, to our check- in our various hotels to our pick and drop every day. This is how real interaction and hands-on experience come from. It was so good to see the bright and energetic young brigade. I must thank the telecom brand, N-cell, flight partners -Buddha Air, Nepal Airlines, Yeti Airlines and the hospitality partners (Hotel Tibet International, KGH group, Chitwan Paradise, The Lakeside retreat) who came together to host me and made my trip extremely enjoyable and comfortable. 11 days just flew away. I am definitely looking back to #VisitNepal2020. Last but not the least, I made some great friends from around the world. More about them and the individual city tours in the upcoming blogs.
Thank you Nepal PATA Chapter and Nepal Tourism Board for great memories.